Jonathan Wallace: More Than a Coach

Becoming a father evolved me.

It might sound cliché, but every time I look into my son’s eyes, I see myself in him. This is now my flesh and blood, and I get to pour everything into him.

When it comes to coaching, it’s really not all that different.

Kansas Jayhawks

I’m going to treat our players like my son. They will be loved, they will be challenged, and they will be deeply cared about.

I never want to change that perspective, and with coach Lance Leipold at the helm, I know I’ll never have to.

A new era begins

Just talking to Coach Leipold and researching where he’s been and all of the things he’s done—I felt an instant alignment.

There was just this connection with the type of man he is, you know? How he goes about doing things and how important it is for him to connect with our kids. That first conversation with him was so eye-opening.

Truthfully, it got me even more excited to get in the trenches. I really want to be on this journey with him, and there’s nothing holding me back.

I’ll be honest, when Coach Leipold first joined the program, I wasn’t sure what my future was going to look like. There were no guarantees I’d even have an opportunity to stick around.

He didn’t have to keep me on the staff, but I’m so thankful that he did.

I’m also a believer in Jesus Christ. So I leaned on my faith during those times of uncertainty. No matter what may happen with my job, I want to make sure I’m pouring into these young men and loving my family the way I need to.

That’s what I keep in front of my mind.

I believe it’s a mistake not to be where your feet are. Yeah, I could have been putting my focus into worrying about what could potentially happen, or I could continue putting my best foot forward into helping the kids I work with every day.

Where is my focus? I think that’s important.

I’m fortunate it’s in line with Coach Leipold and the rest of the football staff. I’m just glad we’re all on this path together.

Becoming an open book

I think the coaches that have been in my life inspired me to go on this journey.

When I think back to the experiences I’ve had, every coach that impacted my life was an open book. What they’d do and the time they’d sacrifice away from their families to invest in my life in more than just football really stood out to me.

My parents were and still are also a big part of shaping the man and coach I’ve become. Ultimately, they kind of were my first coaches in life.

I just want to serve our kids and community.

And I can sense it in Coach Leipold as well.

Everyone’s collaborating to put the pieces together. It’s important to be around a coaching staff that buys into the same philosophy and direction.

The journey ahead is going to be challenging, no question. We’re going to take this thing one day at a time. We’re laying the foundation piece-by-piece and brick-by-brick. Most importantly, we’re doing it together.


The key to success

This togetherness, that bond—it’s so important to achieve success. At the end of the day, that’s what everybody really wants, right?

Everybody wants to be successful. But, how are you going to get there? Sure, I can tell you all about the grind and the hard work. But let me tell you about the mindset, especially when times get rough.

One of the things I started applying to my life is a minor change in perspective. I learned to embrace tough times. Instead of “we have to,” here at KU, “we get to.”

We get to get up early in the morning.

We get to work hard.

We get to build this program.

I think that’s the key to success for the young men we get to work with every day. Once football is over, they’re going to go out into the real world, and they need to be ready. As a coach, mentor, and even a father figure for a lot of these young men—we have to think about them. And a lot of all of this starts with the right mindset.

It’s going to take all of us.

I know in my heart this is the best community to do that.

So, let’s do it together.


Jonathan Wallace

Read more on Jayhawks Extra:

Matt Gildersleeve: Made for this Moment

Andy Kotelnicki: Born to be a Coach

Brian Borland: Full Circle

Travis Goff: The Process of Hiring the Leader of Kansas Football

The Clash of Dreams and Reality

 Head Coach of the Leipold Family

 Darrell Stuckey II: It’s a New Day in Lawrence

Inside the First 72 Hour with Kansas Football Head Coach Lance Leipold